When to Replace Hiking Boots? 13 Signs for a New Pair

By John C. Marcus
Updated: September 3, 2023
when-to-replace-hiking-boots

Your hiking boots are your trusty companions on the trails, supporting you through challenging terrains and unpredictable weather conditions. But how do you know when it’s time to bid them farewell and welcome a new pair?

In this article, we’ll unveil the telltale signs that indicate your hiking boots are ready for retirement. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice adventurer, understanding these signs will ensure you’re equipped with the right footwear for your next outdoor escapade.

13 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Hiking Boots!

1. The Tread is Worn Down

If the tread on your hiking boots is worn down, it’s time to replace them. The tread gives you traction and grip on different terrains. Look for a flattened or smoothed tread pattern with little traction left. When you see this, your boots have reached their limit. Don’t risk your safety and enjoyment—get new boots to maintain a secure grip and stability on the trails. Therefore, learning how to choose hiking boots is necessary.

2. Pain in Your Feet

When your feet ache during hiking, it’s a sign to get new boots. Hiking boots are supposed to support and cushion your feet, but over time they wear out. Ignoring the pain can lead to more discomfort and possible injuries. Take care of your feet by checking your boots’ condition and considering a replacement.

3. If Ankle Cuffs are Getting Worn

Ankle cuffs on hiking boots provide crucial support and stability. When cuffs show signs of wear such as fraying or thinning, it’s time to replace your boots. Worn cuffs compromise ankle support, risking your safety and comfort on the trails. Replace your boots to protect your feet and enjoy your adventures. Take care of your ankles, and they’ll take you places you’ve dreamed of.

Infographics of Signs Time to Replace Your Hiking Boots.

4. You’ve Had Them For 500+ Miles

If you’ve hiked more than 500 miles in your boots, it’s time to buy a new pair. After covering such a distance, your boots will likely show signs of wear and tear, which can affect their performance and support.

Since hiking boots are crucial for stability and protection on the trail, replacing them now ensures you’ll have comfortable and safe adventures outdoors. Keep in mind that investing in new boots is worth it for the durability and reliability they offer.

5. Hiking Boots or Hiking shoes Aren’t Comfortable Anymore

Over time, wear and tear can reduce cushioning and support, causing discomfort and pain. Ignoring this can lead to blisters, foot fatigue, and injuries. Prioritize your comfort and well-being by investing in a new pair of boots for an enjoyable and safe hiking experience.

info graph of signs time to replace hiking boots.

6. Shoelaces are Worn Out

Replace your hiking boots when the shoelaces are worn out. Fraying, thinning, or breakage indicates they’ve reached the end. Worn-out laces compromise fit, comfort, and safety. Replace promptly for hiking boot longevity.

7. The stitching is Coming Loose

Imagine you’re out hiking, surrounded by nature’s wonders when you notice something off about your boots. On closer inspection, you see that the stitching is coming loose. Yikes! That’s a clear sign it’s time to replace your trusted companions.

8. The Insoles of Hiking boots Totally Flat

Hiking boots are designed to provide comfort and support during long hikes in rugged terrain. One clear sign that it’s time to replace your hiking boots is when the insoles become totally flat. Insoles are an essential component of hiking boots, as they provide cushioning and arch support to your feet.
Over time and with extensive use, the insoles can lose their shape and cushioning, resulting in a flat and unsupportive surface.

9. Cracked & Worn Midsole of Hiking Boots

The midsole, which provides cushioning and support, can deteriorate over time due to use and exposure to the elements. A worn midsole compromises stability, shock absorption, and comfort, increasing the risk of foot fatigue and injuries during hikes.
Keep an eye on your midsole’s condition and replace your boots when you see significant wear and tear. This ensures optimal performance and foot protection during your outdoor adventures.

10. Frayed Laces of Hiking Boots

Frayed laces are more prone to breaking, which can lead to discomfort, instability, and even accidents on the trail. If you notice fraying or significant wear on your boot laces, it’s time to consider replacing them to ensure a secure and enjoyable hiking experience.

11. They Aren’t Waterproof Anymore

Without proper waterproofing, your feet can get wet, leading to discomfort and potential injuries. Check for cracks, tears, or worn-out areas on your boots. If you spot any damage, invest in a new pair to keep your feet dry and ensure a safe hiking experience.

12. Eyelets are Coming Loose

Loose eyelets weaken the structure and support of your boots, impacting their performance on rugged terrain. Don’t ignore this warning sign! Prioritize your safety and comfort by investing in a new pair of boots.

13. You Can Feel the Ground Through the Shoe

Over time, the cushioning and padding in the boots wear out, resulting in a loss of support and protection. If you notice that you can feel every rock, root, or uneven surface beneath your feet, it’s a clear indication that your hiking boots have reached the end of their lifespan. 

It’s important to replace them to maintain proper foot support and prevent potential injuries during your outdoor adventures.

What Steps To Take Before Replacing Your Hiking Boots

Info graphic of What Steps To Take Before Replacing Your Hiking Boots
  • Evaluate condition: Check for signs of excessive wear, like worn-out soles or loose stitching. Assess if your boots still offer sufficient support and protection.
  • Consider repairs: Minor damage can often be fixed, saving you money. Look into options for repairing loose stitching or worn-out laces.
  • Check for discomfort: Note any discomfort or pain while wearing your boots. Try different insoles or adjustments before replacing them completely.
  • Assess hiking needs: Consider the type of hiking and terrain you encounter. If your boots no longer meet your requirements, it may be time for a replacement with better features.
  • Seek expert advice: Consult footwear specialists or experienced hikers for recommendations and insights.

How to Properly Store and Take Care of Hiking Boots

  • Clean after each hike: Remove dirt and mud with a brush or damp cloth.
  • Let them dry: Air dry boots completely, avoiding direct heat.
  • Apply waterproofing: Use a spray or wax to protect from moisture. Store in a cool, dry place: Avoid sunlight and plastic bags.
  • Maintain shape: Use boot trees or stuff with newspaper.

How Often Should Hiking Boots Needs To Be Replaced?

Replace your hiking boots when you see significant wear and tear or when they no longer offer sufficient support. Generally, aim to replace them every 500 to 1,000 miles or every 1 to 2 years. Regular inspection and maintenance are key to determining the right time for replacement. Keep your feet comfortable and safe on the trails by investing in new boots when needed.

The Insole Condition of Hiking Shoe

let’s talk about the insole condition when it comes to deciding whether it’s time to replace your hiking boots. Now, the insole is a pretty important part of your boots because it’s responsible for providing comfort and support while you’re out on those trails. 

Over time, though, it can start to wear out and lose its cushy feel, leaving you with less comfort and more foot fatigue. So, take a good look at the insole and see if it’s showing any signs of wear, like getting thin or flattening out. If you notice significant deterioration or the support just isn’t there anymore, it’s a pretty clear sign that it’s time to say goodbye to those trusty boots.

Remember, a well-maintained insole means happier feet and a more enjoyable hiking experience overall.

Using the Press Test to know When To Replace 

To determine if it’s time to replace your hiking boots, try the press test. Press your thumb against the midsole: a firm and responsive feel indicates good condition. If it feels compressed or doesn’t bounce back, or if you spot cracks or creases, it’s time for new boots. Regular press tests help identify worn-out boots, ensuring optimal support and protection on your outdoor journeys.

Leather, Fabric, or Synthetic Upper and Stitching 

Choose the right hiking boot material for durability and performance. Leather is durable and weather-resistant. Fabric is lightweight and breathable but less durable. Synthetic materials are quick-drying but may lack durability. Check stitching for any damage. Replace boots when significant wear or compromised performance occurs.

Out On The Trail Signs Need To Replace Your Hiking Shoes

 When hiking, keep an eye out for signs it’s time to replace your boots:

  • Worn-out treads
  • Lack of cushioning
  • Leaks and cracks
  • Unstable ankle support
  • Excessive discomfort or pain

Regularly check your boots for these indicators to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience

How To Make Your Hiking Boots Last Longer?

Info Graphic of How To Make Your Hiking Boots Last Longer

Keep them clean and dry: After each hike, clean off dirt and mud using a soft brush or cloth. Make sure your boots are completely dry before storing them to prevent mold or mildew. Therefore, learning how to clean hiking boots the right way.

Apply waterproof treatment: Protect your boots from moisture by applying a waterproofing treatment. Follow the instructions and reapply when necessary.

Avoid extreme heat: Keep your boots away from direct sunlight and heat sources to prevent material damage. Store them in a cool, dry place.

Use proper storage: Store your boots in a well-ventilated area to prevent odors and maintain their shape. Use newspaper or boot trees to retain their form. 

Repair and maintain: Regularly check for wear or damage. Replace laces or insoles as needed and address small repairs promptly.

Rotate your footwear: If you hike frequently, alternate between multiple pairs of boots to allow them to dry thoroughly and reduce wear and tear.


By following these simple tips, you can prolong the life of your hiking boots, ensuring they continue to provide comfort and reliability during your outdoor adventures.

What to Look For in New Hiking Footwear?

Find the Right Fit: Ensure your new hiking boots are snug and comfortable, with enough room for your toes. Avoid slippage or rubbing.

Get Good Support: Look for boots with solid ankle support and a firm sole. This helps prevent injuries and gives stability on uneven terrain.

Keep Your Feet Dry: Consider waterproof or water-resistant boots. They’ll keep your feet dry during wet conditions and make your hikes more enjoyable.

Secure Traction: Check the outsole for reliable traction. Look for deep lugs or a pattern that grips well on different surfaces.

Let Your Feet Breathe: Choose boots with breathable materials or features that promote airflow. This prevents excessive sweating and keeps your feet comfortable.

Choose Durability: Opt for boots made with high-quality construction and materials that can withstand the demands of hiking and last for many seasons.

Lighten the Load: Consider the weight of the boots. Balancing durability and weight can reduce fatigue during long hikes.

Allow for Break-In: Keep in mind that hiking boots often need a break-in period. Wear them before hitting the trails to ensure optimal comfort.

Time For A New Pair?

Knowing when to replace your hiking boots is crucial for comfort and safety. Here are a few signs it’s time for a new pair:

Sole Wear: Check for flattened lugs and loss of traction.

Cushioning and Support: If you feel less cushioning or support, it’s time.

Leaks and Tears: Look for cracks, holes, or water seepage.

Heel Slippage: Persistent slippage or instability means it’s time.

Decreased Comfort: Pain or discomfort that persists means you need new boots.

Regularly inspect your boots to ensure you’re ready for your next adventure. In conclusion, knowing when to replace your hiking boots is crucial for comfort, safety, and optimal performance on the trails. Look out for signs like worn-out treads, pain in your feet, frayed cuffs, extensive mileage, discomfort, and damaged components. Regular inspection and maintenance are key. Take care of your boots, assess their condition, and invest in new ones when needed. Happy hiking!

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John C. Marcus

John C. Marcus

John's deep insights into the intricacies of leather quality, boot design, and manufacturing processes have earned him a well-deserved reputation. His writings reflect his profound understanding and passion for the craft, making him a sought-after voice in the industry.

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